Skulls & Human Remains

One of the most inhumane and heinous crimes of the OvaHerero and Nama genocides was the desecration of graves, the stealing of human remains, and the cutting off and stealing of heads and other body parts for pure pleasure as well for scientific experiments to prove the inferiority of Africans. In colonial Namibia, especially during the 1904-1908 genocide, the stealing of skulls and human remains was a full blown and organized industry. Collectors, universities, museums, and scientists would place orders for the supply of these human parts.

In concentration camps, female prisoners boiled severed heads and cleaned them with shard glass – sometimes the victims were family and often acquaintances. Some skulls have been uncovered in Germany and repatriated over the past several years. Close to 300 skulls and human remains have been repatriated. Hundreds of skulls and human remains are still in Germany.

Charité is one of several German institutions that was in possession of Herero and Nama skulls. On September 30, 2011, Charité officially handed over 20 skulls of Namibian origin to a delegation from Namibia.  An additional 21 human remains were returned on March 5, 2014.  Below is a summary of their research regarding the initial 20 skulls from the collection of the former Institute of Anatomy of Berlin University (now Center for Anatomy of Charité).

SUMMARY of Research on 20 Skulls

Specific Information About Each Skull

Nama A 817 Nama A 810 Nama A 809 Nama A 808 Nama A 807 Nama A 794 Nama A 793 Nama A 792 Nama A 789 Nama A 788 Nama A 787 Herero A 834 Herero A 833 Herero A 813 Herero A 803 Herero A 802 Herero A 801 Herero A 796 Herero A 299 Herero A 298

Additional information is available at Charite Human Remains Project at http://anatomie.charite.de/geschichte/human_remains_projekt/restitution_of_namibian_skulls_2011